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Annual skunky-smelling herb from a taproot; stems erect, simple to moderately branched, glandular-hairy, 10-40 cm tall.
Alternate, 2-6 cm long, firm, spiny, 1 to 2 times pinnately cleft, the axis and segments linear, the terminal segment not elongate.
Inflorescences dense, leafy-bracted heads, to 3 cm thick, of several to many unstalked flowers, terminating the stem and branches; corollas pale to deep blue, 9-12 mm long, the tube spreading to five 2-3 mm long, oblong lobes with 3 veins; stamens included within the corolla tube; calyces 8-14 mm long, sparsely glandular-hairy, the more or less equal teeth lanceolate, pointy-tipped.
Capsules, oblong-ellipsoid, 3-chambered; seeds 6 to 9 per chamber, becoming sticky when moistened.
Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia